As technology evolves, you can integrate it into your business to increase efficiency and output. The agricultural industry benefits greatly from new technology because it allows farmers to meet the food demand, despite the labor shortage, and increases convenience.
However, technology comes with cybersecurity risks. In order to keep your business safe while reaping the benefits of said technology, it's crucial to educate yourself about cybersecurity and what you can do to prevent cyberattacks and related threats.
Examples of Cyberattacks in Agriculture
One of the ways hackers make money is through ransomware attacks. In a ransomware attack, a hacker breaches security and compromises crucial data. Once the data is compromised, they demand payment for the decryption key. These bad actors can also sell the information they steal.
Here are some of the recent cybersecurity events targeting agriculture:
- There were six ransomware attacks against grain cooperatives in 2021.
- In 2022, there were two possible ransomware attacks on a feeding mill company.
- A multi-state grain company experienced a ransomware attack in 2022.
While the risk of cybersecurity threats is often higher for larger businesses, smaller agricultural businesses, like small farms and equipment dealers, aren't out of the woods. In fact, small businesses are more at risk for security breaches because they often don't have the proper tactics and software in place to prevent attacks.
8 Tips to Prevent Cyberattacks
Luckily, you can prevent cyberattacks if you prepare for them and put security measures in place. Here are eight tips to help you tighten cybersecurity in your agriculture equipment dealership or farm office.
1. Educate Yourself and Your Employees
Start by holding a meeting with your team to discuss cybersecurity and your plan moving forward. Ensure you speak with employees about sensitive information so they don't accidentally give it away. You can also make it necessary for employees to undergo frequent cybersecurity training. Focus on various kinds of cyberattacks, including:
- Malware: Malware includes various forms of harmful software, like viruses and ransomware. A malware attack can take control of your machine, monitor your actions and keystrokes and transmit data to the attacker.
- Phishing: Attackers use phishing attacks to get you to take an action you typically wouldn't do by pretending to be something or someone else. Most phishing attacks involve emails with attachments that install malware on your computer.
- Ransomware: As stated, a ransomware attack is when a hacker corrupts your data or shuts down your systems and demands a ransom to return your operations to normal.
2. Invest in Anti-Virus Software
Invest in an anti-virus program and install it on all work computers, tablets and smartphones. Set the program to install automatic updates, so you can keep it up-to-date.
In general, you should install updates for all programs whenever they're released. Manufacturers typically release updates or patches to fix bugs or protect against new security threats. While the old software might still function, it won't be as secure as the new version, meaning updates are vital for your business's security.
3. Implement a Screening Policy for Phishing Scams
Phishing attempts are often easy to identify when you know what to look for. Instruct your employees to only click on links from trusted sources. They can also check for phishing scams by looking at the following:
- The sender's email address: Verify that the sender's email address matches their name. Also, see if the address seems legitimate.
- The greeting: A generic greeting like “sir,” “ma'am,” or “employee” can indicate a phishing scam.
- Spelling errors: Phishing emails can have odd spelling choices and grammatical errors.
- The reason for the links: Because phishing scams play on impulses and emotions, they might urge you to take action promptly, whether it be to click a link for a donation or download a supposedly important attachment.
- Any requests for personal information: Companies are unlikely to request personal or financial information through email or text, so seeing requests for this kind of information may indicate a scam.
4. Utilize Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) methods require two or more verification factors before accessing a resource like an online account. MFA can involve sending a code to your phone or email after you enter the account password, requiring you to enter that code before you can log in. This extra step makes it more challenging for hackers to access your data.
In addition to multi-factor authentication, you can create separate employee logins and update passwords regularly.
5. Back up Data Properly
Store your data on multiple platforms, like the cloud and various computers, hard drives and storage devices. If you experience a cyberattack, you can access your data elsewhere to prevent an operational shutdown.
In addition to backing up your data, you should create a contingency plan that outlines the steps you and your employees will take if you experience a security breach.
6. Share Sensitive Information in Person
You can protect yourself and your employees by only discussing sensitive information verbally or in person instead of via email, text or online communication methods. Always encrypt the information if you must send it digitally.
7. Consider Your Business Partners
Think about the companies that work with you. You need to know the data they have on your business and how they're protecting it. Collaborate with your partners and umbrella companies to ensure they're protecting your data properly.
8. Protect Your Data
The data your employees need to access will vary depending on their position. Consider what your employees must know to do their job. Then, limit their access so they can only view that data.
Further protect your data by dedicating a device to collect payments, one that can't search the internet. Restricted online access can make it harder for hackers to steal your payment information. You can also consult with your bank or credit card processor to ensure you have up-to-date anti-fraud protection and services.
Choose Pequea Equipment
Using reliable agricultural equipment is just as important to your operations as cybersecurity. Pequea's high-quality farming equipment can increase your productivity and efficiency, allowing you to complete crucial daily tasks with ease. All of the equipment we offer is built to last, so you can be sure you're getting the most value for your investment.
Find a Pequea dealer near you to discover our farming equipment and how we can help you transform your operations.